A picture of Marcus Rashford recently went viral on tennis social media, as the star footballer was seen sporting Naomi Osaka's logo on his hat while traveling with the English national team. And Osaka has now claimed she found it 'really cool' and 'a big honor' to see a famous athlete like Rashford give her that kind of recognition.
Following her straight-sets win over Ajla Tomljanovic at the Miami Open, Naomi Osaka was asked what it meant to be a global icon whose presence is felt even outside the realm of tennis. The four-time Grand Slam champion was typically modest in her reply, as she claimed she was merely 'living' her life so it was tough to comment on her global status.
"Honestly I can't really answer that because I feel like I'm just living my life so I can't really observe it from an outsider's point of view," Osaka said. "I kinda think that I'm doing, like, my daily things."
But the Japanese admitted she was thrilled to see Marcus Rashford showcase her brand logo, before revealing that she had personally thanked him too.
"But yeah, it was really cool to see him (Marcus Rashford) wear the beanie because I've never really seen a famous athlete wear my Nike stuff before," Osaka continued. "Actually, it was a really big honor for me and I thanked him. Yeah, I was super happy."
I don't necessarily see myself as a 'brand' - Naomi Osaka on her popularity off the court
Naomi Osaka has become one of the most well-known tennis players in the world, due to her exploits both on and off the court.
Osaka has won four of the last six hardcourt Grand Slams, and also earned widespread admiration for her stance against racial injustice over the past few months. Not surprisingly, the 23-year-old is currently sponsored by some of the biggest brands in the world including Nike, Louis Vuitton, Tag Heuer and Nissan.
When asked about her brand, and whether or not she takes pride in her popularity off the court, Naomi Osaka played down her influence on businesses and sponsors.
"Not necessarily," Osaka said when asked if she perceives herself as a 'brand'. "I want to cherish my time away and who I align myself with but I don't really see myself as a brand, I just see myself as a person who has a lot of opportunities. I just want to pick and choose what I think is really going to stay with me in the future."
After putting together glorious runs at the 2020 US Open and the 2021 Australian Open, Naomi Osaka is now on the hunt for a maiden title in Miami. And despite getting off to a rough start, she was able to get past the second-round challenge posed by Ajla Tomljanovic 7-6 6-4.
In that context, the Japanese claimed that it takes her some time to get up to speed after she takes an extended break from competition, the way she did in Australia and now in Miami.
"It takes me time, like it did today," Naomi Osaka said. "I was finding it hard to structure the points the way I found most efficient. It was hard to fight off thoughts like - 'You were playing so well in Australia, why can't you do it today?' But I know that it's a process and I just keep trying to learn from every point that I play."